You may have already heard: The Houston Zoo will soon be home to wombats! Two of our wonderful employees Ali and Kevin are in Australia right now learning lots of information about wombats. Here’s our latest communication with Ali and Kevin.
Hello again from down under! Kevin and I have been learning a lot about wombats and spending lots of time bonding with Lily and Lullaby. Wombats are nocturnal so when we go in to clean in the morning they are quite sleepy and reluctant to get out of bed ( kind of like me in the morning, really). Lily is cuddly in the morning and likes to crawl into keepers laps for a bit of snuggle time. Lullaby is content to just stay in her bed and watch us work. When we come back in the late afternoon they are much more awake and alert and Lily is usually ready for a bit of play time. She can be rather rambunctious and will bounce around and even run. Wombats typically move fairly slowly but when they want to they can sprint at speeds of just over 27 mph! Combine that speed with their solid compact bodies and they’re almost like little tanks.
One of the important things we’ve learned is how to properly restrain the wombats for exams and veterinary procedures. Because our girls weigh around 57 pounds, are very strong, and have powerful teeth it’s important to know how to pick them up and restrain them safely. The picture in the last blog showed me practicing on a younger wombat, Bob, who weighs in at around 22 pounds. Kevin and I graduated to Lily this week and she was definitely an armful!
Another important job for any wombat keeper is collecting the grasses that they like to eat. The sharp, rough grasses are important for digestion and for wearing their teeth down. Just like rodents their teeth grow constantly so it’s important for them to have lots of tough browse to chew on. Lily and Lullaby prefer their grass clumps with the roots still attached and really appreciate it if keepers take the time to replant the clumps so that they can dig them up again. We may have to sneakily dig grass clumps around the zoo, don’t tell the horticulture team!
That’s all for now, tune in next time to find out about the other animals we’ve learned about while we’ve been here!